CLOSE

Drew Ott has filed the necessary papers to apply for a fifth year of eligibility and the Hawkeyes prepare for their last game of the regular season.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa has checked off another item on its never-done-before list, landing in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings.

After rankings of 9, 5 and 5 in the first three weeks, there’s definitely something magical about Tuesday night’s No. 4 ranking, revealed on ESPN. After multiple re-votes, specifically surrounding the Nos. 3-6 spots, the 12-member CFP committee gave the Hawkeyes credit for being one of two unbeaten FBS teams through 11 games.

The message sent by the committee Tuesday night — given that Iowa jumped over previous No. 4 Notre Dame — was that consistency has made the Hawkeyes one of the nation's four best teams. For now.

“I think it’s really hard (to get to 11-0),” Iowa center Austin Blythe said. “But at the same time, it’s all about being consistent — doing the same things that have gotten you to this point, week in and week out.”

Brown: Iowa's acceptance of failure paves way to perfection

The top six, in order, were Clemson (11-0), Alabama (10-1), Oklahoma (10-1), Iowa (11-0), Michigan State (10-1) and Notre Dame (10-1). What to make of this if you’re a Hawkeye fan?

First, remember this: As has been pounded into your heads on social media, in podcasts and in print, this ranking still means nothing.

The only ones that matter are revealed Dec. 6. And if Iowa wins Friday at Nebraska, then in the Big Ten Conference championship game on Dec. 5 in Indianapolis, the Hawkeyes are a 99.99 percent lock to be included in the four-team playoff for a national title. (Let that sink in for a moment.)

Iowa takeaways: Kirk Ferentz jokes about SI cover jinx

Second, Tuesday night provided some pieces of encouraging news for whoever becomes the Big Ten champion.

The Big Ten consumes four of the top 10 rankings and five of the top 16 with one week of the regular season to go — with Ohio State eighth, Michigan 10th and Northwestern 16th. The committee putting Iowa ahead of Michigan State — who will be the Big Ten East champion with a win Saturday vs. Penn State — might give the Hawkeyes a chance to crawl back into the final four, even with a loss at Nebraska. If Iowa loses Friday, it would have a chance to rebound with a quality win over Michigan State, Michigan or Ohio State in Indy. (Whether that made Iowa playoff-worthy would be helped if Notre Dame lost to No. 9, two-loss Stanford this Saturday.)

Beathard has potential to shine Friday

Consider: Is it realistic that the committee would leave out a one-loss champion from a league it clearly holds in such high regard?

Third, let’s finish with some more sobering news, and you already knew this: You can’t predict what the committee will ultimately do. We watched last year as No. 3-ranked TCU dropped three spots in the final rankings despite a 55-3 season-ending win over Iowa State.

So, just because Iowa is good enough for fourth this week — it might not be next week. Notre Dame can attest to that, dropping two spots with a three-point win over Boston College while Oklahoma jumped four notches with a one-point home win over a banged-up TCU.

“We’re different than polls,” College Football Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long said. “We vote based on how we believe those teams will play. We’re looking for the best four teams in college football in the end.”

The full list:

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Iowa

5. Michigan State

6. Notre Dame

7. Baylor

8. Ohio State

9. Stanford

10. Michigan

11. Oklahoma State

12. Florida

13. Florida State

14. North Carolina

15. Navy

16. Northwestern

17. Oregon

18. Ole Miss

19. TCU

20. Washington State

21. Mississippi State

22. UCLA

23. Utah

24. Toledo

25. Temple

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE